New Life At The New Year
Our Jews for Jesus missionaries obtain the names and addresses of those we seek to reach in various ways. We get names through our street witnessing and by making phone calls (cold calling) to people with Jewish surnames. But over the years, the best and most consistent source of our initial contact with those who need the gospel has been their believing friends and relatives. As the Jewish High Holiday season approaches, I think of such a case that came to a happy conclusion about a year ago.
My wife, Angi, had met Len’s wife at a women’s Bible study held at our church. Kim is a Gentile believer who, at that time, had recently rededicated her life to the Lord. As Kim grew in her faith, increasing tension developed between her and Len. He did not share Kim’s faith in Jesus, and as she began to pass on her faith in Yeshua to their five-year-old son, the conflict of spiritual loyalty in their household increased. Although by his own admission Len was not an observant Jew, he did not like the idea of his son being exposed to something he regarded as nonJewish.
Kim and Len began to explore some intermarriage groups sponsored by various local synagogues. Rather than offering any kind of credible spiritual suggestions, the groups concluded that the path to harmony in an inter-faith home was to yield to the partner who objected the most to the other partner’s religion. That usually translated into the Gentile spouse downplaying or abandoning whatever faith in Jesus he or she had.
Fortunately, Kim felt that such a solution was inappropriate. She realized that Christian spouses who chose such a path must have a questionable relationship with the Lord from the start—that it could not be merely a matter of blending two cultures to maintain harmony, because real faith and commitment to Christ involved interacting with the God of the universe. Kim talked to Angi about this situation.
Angi then approached me about calling Len, as he was open to getting together and discussing the issue. When we got together Len had no trouble opening up to me and telling me his perspective on the problem. We seemed to hit it off right away, and much of what he shared with me about the conflict of Jews believing in Jesus was something to which I could fully relate. He agreed to meet with me on a regular basis and study the messiahship of Jesus. We also got together many times as a foursome. Len came to some of our special Jewish holiday events and became more comfortable with the Jewishness of faith in Jesus.
Then the Jewish High Holiday season drew near. This time of year in the Jewish calendar is most sacred to Jewish people. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (the New Year and the Day of Atonement) usually foster a heightened awareness of spiritual matters in the Jewish community. As we move toward Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, we begin by focusing on our deeds and God’s judgment of sin. Of course those of us who have embraced Jesus as our Messiah know that our atonement is sure, but those who do not possess this promise of salvation have no real assurance of God’s forgiveness.
Len came to our Rosh Hashanah service. I preached that night. While I did not focus on the theme of judgment, I did deal with it. One of my points was that when judgment comes, we will stand alone before God and answer for ourselves. Our friends and relatives will not be able to help us then, even though they greatly influence us now. That point spoke to Len the most. I gave the invitation but there was no visible response.
Afterwards, Len approached me and said, "I didn’t want to raise my hand because I looked around and I did not want to be the only one."
I replied, "Does that mean you are ready to make a decision now?"
"Not yet" he said. We agreed to meet later that week to discuss his response.
When we met we went back and forth discussing the issue of Jesus’ messiahship and what that would mean for Len. I decided to ask him a simple but direct question.
"Is there any good reason you can think of for not believing in Jesus?" Without flinching, he replied no. I then asked him if he would like to pray and accept Jesus into his life and he said he would!
At Rosh Hashanah Jewish people exchange the greeting, "May your name be inscribed in the Book of Life!" As Len began the new year, he had the assurance that his name was inscribed in the Lamb’s Book of Life!